Newport, R.I. USA (July 15, 2011) – Today’s riddle, “where can you find the Prodigy, the Snow Lion, and the Dragon?,” can be correctly answered “at The Lizard,” as these yachts, plus 13 more, today crossed the finish line for the Transatlantic Race 2011 at Lizard Point on the south coast of England.
Of the 16 yachts that completed the 2,975 mile race in the early hours of the day, 10 departed Newport, R.I., during the second of the three staggered starts aimed at having the boats arrive in England in close proximity to one another. That goal was realized starting at 2:58 UTC when Ambersail concluded their race across the North Atlantic and started a procession that would keep the race committee busy for the next four hours. Beau Geste followed 19 minutes later, then Vanquish at 3:25, Sojana at 3:38, Varuna at 3:58, Shakti at 4:01 and Scho-ka-kola at 4:04. There was a 20 minute respite for the race committee before the parade resumed, with Concise and Prodigy arriving within five minutes of each other, and another half hour break before Norddeutsche Vermoegen Hamburg, Dragon, and Ourson Rapide finished in rapid succession. By 6:44 Snow Lion, Nordwind, British Soldier and Carina had received their welcome from the race committee as well.
As predicted, it was a nerve-jangling finale for several yachts, none more so than British Soldier and Carina: after 17 days of racing the two yachts (competing in IRC Class Four) arrived just a minute apart at The Lizard.
“What a fantastic way to finish this marvelous race,” said 47-year-old Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Bate (Falmouth, Cornwall, U.K.), skipper of British Soldier, shortly after the dramatic finish. “We were neck-and-neck with Carina for the last 36 hours. Night sailing was especially exciting as we were on a very shy reach; kite up, virtually on the edge the whole time. Everybody was up on deck, getting everything we could out of British Soldier. We made it through the line just before Carina, but hats off to them; they beat us by a country mile on corrected time and three cheers were exchanged by both boats. After the race, we moored up in my hometown of Falmouth and my parents treated us to some homemade pasties – none of that shop stuff – and some beer. A big thank you to all of the organizers, this has been a great race, really memorable.”
Carina’s skipper, Rives Potts, Jr. (Essex, Conn.), may well be a tired man, but it is doubtful he will get much sleep tonight. Carina had a fantastic race, but the re-start two days ago when the wind died across the racing area may have cost them dearly. Dawn Star, skippered by William Hubbard (New York, N.Y.), caught them up and is currently less than 40 nautical miles from the finish line sailing in what appears to be solid south-southwest breeze. Should the current prediction hold, Dawn Star will – on corrected time – eclipse Carina as winner of IRC Class Four. All eyes will surely be glued to the Yellowbrick tracker for the next six hours as this nail-biter comes to a conclusion.
Concise 2, skippered by Ned Collier-Wakefield (Oxford, U.K.) won the battle of the Class 40s, but only just. It was touch and go all the way to the end, and Concise 2 crossed the finish line 29 minutes ahead of Dragon skippered by Mike Hennessy (Mystic, Conn).
“Dragon made us fight all the way,” said Collier-Wakefield. “Right near the [finish] line the wind really started to fade and we were always looking over our shoulder. We managed to keep Concise 2 going but we were crawling along. As a young crew we are always learning, but we have been sailing together as a team for years now and I guess that has been a really big factor in our performance. We work very well together and we are all good mates. The Transatlantic Race 2011 has been really rewarding and a lot of fun.”
In IRC Class One, which took the final start of the Transatlantic Race 2011 on July 3, Sojana, skippered by Peter Harrison (Reigate, U.K.) took fourth overall with its finish today, while the Oakcliff All-American Offshore Team, racing aboard Vanquish, claimed fifth and Beau Geste, skippered by Karl Kwok (Hong Kong), placed sixth.
In IRC Class Two it was a close finish for Christoph Avenarius and Gorm Gondesen’s Shakti and Jens Kellinghusen’s Varuna. The two Simon Rogers 46-footers crossed the line three minutes apart to take second and third in the class standings. Prodigy, the Simonis/Voog 54 owned by Chris Frost (Durban, South Africa), took fourth place overall.
In IRC Class Three, today’s finish by the German youth team aboard Norddeutcshe Vermoegen Hamburg earned them a very respectable second in class. They are followed in the overall class standings by Snow Lion, the Ker 50 owned by former NYYC Commodore Lawrence Huntington (New York, N.Y.); Scho-ka-kola, the Reichel Pugh 56 named for the German chocolate confection and owned by Uwe Lebens (Hamburg); the Lithuanian-crewed Ambersail; and Ourson Rapide, owned by Paolo Roasenda (Vedano al Lambro, Italy).
And while Dawn Star is expected to finish before the date changes on the calendar, there are two yachts still fighting their way across the North Atlantic: Jacqueline IV and Sasha. The two 42-foot yachts, now at sea for close to three weeks, were among the first group of six boats to begin the Transatlantic Race 2011 on June 26. At their current speed, roughly seven knots, both will spend at least one more day at sea before they too can break out the champagne.